The Linux kernel in Debian

Ben Hutchings and Maximilian Attems

Ben Hutchings

Maximilian Attems

Linux kernel

Linux release model

Since ~2004:

Debian kernel team (1)

Who are we?

Debian kernel team (2)

What do we do?

Official Linux kernel packages (1)

Main source package is linux. Most binary package names change regularly.

Official Linux kernel packages (2)

The linux-latest source package builds meta-packages to support automatic upgrades between binaries built from linux.

The installer will normally install linux-image-flavour (for some appropriate flavour).

Official Linux kernel packages (3)

Official early userspace

Main source package is initramfs-tools.

Co-developed with Ubuntu and hence sharing all the pain^Wfun of the software and that special relation. In any case a huge step forward after the very special initrd-tools.

initramfs-tools paved the way for pluggable initramfs generators. But, early userspace shouldn't be visible to users. Todays dev sits in dracut. With better maintenance inside the team very likely candidate for Debian 8.0.

Upcoming challenge: secureboot.

Custom Linux kernel builds

The official packages work for most users, but not all:

Using either upstream source or Debian linux-source package:

Extra features

Always aim to get patches merged upstream. But many big features that users want added are not merged upstream for a long time. Kernel team expects features to be upstream first, then backported.

But there have been exceptions:

Out-of-tree modules

The kernel team does not encourage the use of out-of-tree modules. However, we support them by providing development packages and by avoiding ABI changes during a stable release.

Debian has two packages to aid in building out-of-tree modules:

Firmware files